Government pledges $2 billion broadband investment for underserved communities

The $2 billion investment is in addition to the government's $1.7 billion Universal Broadband Fund

Justin Trudeau Prime Minister

The government has announced a $2 billion investment to connect about 750,000 homes to broadband in underserved communities.

This broadband investment is part of the Canada Infrastructure Bank’s (CIB) three-year $10 billion growth plan announced today during a press conference. The plan is expected to create approximately 60,000 jobs across the country.

The Canada Infrastructure Bank is a federal corporation tasked with financially supporting revenue-generating infrastructure projects through public-private partnerships

It’s important to note that this $10 billion investment announcement is not new spending and was already previously allocated. The government notes that it has committed $35 billion to support infrastructure projects across the country through the Canada Infrastructure Bank, which includes the $10 billion announced today.

The $2 billion broadband plan will be executed in two primary ways. Firstly, the CIB will partner with other federal and provincial programs designed to increase broadband access.

“Secondly, the CIB will continue its direct engagement with internet service providers across the country on projects that will not rely on those additional government programs, but can still be viable with CIB participation and support,” the government outlined in a news release.

CIB also outlines that broadband projects for underserved areas have high capital costs but lack the user base density to commercially support the initial capital investment, which is why it wants to bridge this gap with low cost financing.

“The CIB’s broadband investments will contribute to the federal government’s commitment to ensure that all Canadians have access to high-speed internet,” the government states.

Further, the government notes that the $2 billion broadband investment aims to help Canadians participate in the digital economy.

When asked about the government’s delay with launch of applications for the $1.7 billion Universal Broadband Fund, CIB chair Michael Sabia confirmed that today’s investment announcement is addition to the fund.

However, there’s still no timeline on when applications for the Universal Broadband Fund will open up, after Rural Economic Development Minister Maryam Monsef said back in June that they would open “soon.”

In addition to broadband investments, today’s growth plan outlines investments for clean power to support renewable generation, agriculture irrigation projects and the adoption of zero-emission buses and charging infrastructure.

“By investing in infrastructure, we are strengthening our communities and ensuring good jobs for today and in the future,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated in the news release.

Today’s announcement comes a week after the Liberal government’s Throne speech addressed the importance of internet access and rural broadband investments.